Dr. Halima Leak Francis (she / her) is a nationally accomplished educator, practitioner, and scholar whose career spanning more than 20 years has focused on strengthening capacity, sustainability, and equitable practices within nonprofits, philanthropy, and higher education administration. She joined Tulane SoPA in 2019 to lead the development of the school’s Public Administration program. As the program’s founding Director and Professor of Practice, she worked with school leadership and advisors to steer curriculum design; recruit a nationally accomplished faculty; and secure Southern Association of Colleges, and Schools Commission on Colleges accreditation. Under her leadership, the program exceeded launch expectations by tripling initial enrollment projections, and was later named in honor of the late U.S. Congressman John Lewis – reinforcing its role as a contemporary voice for advancing inclusive public service and community leadership.
Dr. Leak Francis joined Tulane from Texas Muslim Women’s Foundation, a multi-sector, ethnically and culturally diverse civic organization specializing in providing culturally specialized social services, and she has a proven track record of strengthening of communities through meaningful collaboration, strategic leadership, and philanthropic investment. Along with her work at Texas Muslim Women’s Foundation, she has developed programming and engaged public and private supporters on behalf of institutions such as CUNY School of Professional Studies, New York University, Barnard College, and Communities in Schools of Wake County (North Carolina). Throughout her career, Dr. Leak Francis has also taught diverse populations of students, increasing educational and professional development access in public service related fields through online and blended learning environments.
Leak Francis holds a B.A. in English from Hampton University, as well as an M.A. in Sociology of Education and a Ph.D. in Higher Education Administration from New York University – Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human Development. A dedicated community volunteer, she prioritizes advancing systemic equity and inclusion by supporting organizations and programs that are committed to the same. She serves as a founding co-chair of the HERitage Giving Fund, Tulane History Project co-chair, Greater New Orleans Foundation’s Impact 100 co-chair, and Foundation for Louisiana board member. Additionally, Leak Francis holds the Carnegie Corporation of NY Professorship in Social Entrepreneurship at Tulane’s Taylor Center for Social Innovation and Design Thinking, and is a member of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc.
Born and raised in Winston-Salem, N.C., she has lived and worked in cities throughout Virginia, New York, and Texas. She now enjoys her home in the New Orleans area with husband Eddie, who is an award-winning mass media veteran and New Orleans native. Her favorite times are spent with her husband, her amazing bonus son, other family members, friends, and pets.